View Full Version : Hot water turns brown - sometimes.

November 4th, 2004, 04:57 PM
It happened 4 times in the last month. All of a sudden the hot water would turn a tan/brown color. When switching to cold water it would be clear, when switching back it would be brown again. It could be this way for 5 minutes or so. It doesn't smell bad. It's happened at 3 different locations so far at various times of the day.

I immediately suspected the hot water heater (it's gas) but I'm not so sure anymore because:

1) I took a shower, no problem. The wife took a shower 10 minutes later, and the water came out brown.

2) The heater is new and was installed new in June 2003.

I'm going to call the water company, but before I do does anyone have any guesses? The house is 45 years old, all copper pipes.
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November 11th, 2004, 01:32 AM
Draining the water heater once a year is recommended to remove buildup out of the bottom of tank.

Sometimes, unbeknownst to the homeowner, there are galvanized nipples used in the plumbing system that they are not aware of that can cause discoloration of water.

November 14th, 2004, 10:25 PM
I have the same issue at the house we just bought (built in the 50's). I just had the system cleaned, but I guess I'm going to have to flush out the hot water heater again. I have a sump/drain in one corner of the basement, which makes it easier. To try to prevent further buildup I added a whole house (actually a plumber did) filter at the main 3/4" pipe coming into the house. It's only been 2 weeks & it's turning orange already.
I'm hoping this will save some wear & tear (sediment damage) to everything in the house

November 15th, 2004, 08:31 AM
The thing that is confusing me is it's ONLY the hot water, yet the heater is just over a year old. And it does not happen immediately after turning on the water, it could be running for 15 minutes before turning brown. As if there IS rust in the tank, but it takes a while to get through the system.
I'm going to call the water co. and see if they can check it out (it's a rental). If they need to replace it I'm considering buying my own and installing it.
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November 15th, 2004, 01:15 PM
I'll second what DUNBAR said. 99% sure you will find it is sediment coming from the bottom of your water heater tank. Cause of the sediment could be defective heater element, anode rod, or tank rusting; all of these are on the interior of the water tank. Exterior cause could be your water supply, but I doubt that since you are on town water and it happens only with hot water but you never know. It is common to run your hot water for 15 minutes (like a teenager taking a shower :mad: ) but not common to run the cold for that long. You may want to run your cold water for an extended time and see what happens.

November 16th, 2004, 05:39 PM
I just got off the phone with the town's water supervisor and he told me it's a common "problem" with my town and the next town (on the same water system). He said the water naturally has a high concentration of iron and when it sits in the hot water tank the heating action keeps the particles in suspension until you use about 1/2 the tank or so then it starts coming out.
If you use the hot water more frequently then it'll take longer for this to happen. If not, then you'll have to flush the tank every so often. He said he does it every 2 months or so.
This sucks!
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